Based on true events, The Siege at Jadotville (a Netflix original) is a shocking reenactment of a heroic battle that was meticulously covered up for over 40 years. In 1961 Dag Hammarskjold, United Nations Secretary General, sent 150 Irish Defence Forces, non-combatant peace keepers, to defend the fledgling secessionist state of Katanga (later to be part of the Republic of the Congo) against an overwhelming contingent of ex-Foreign Legion French and Katangese mercenaries. Tshombe (Katanga’s leader) had been hired by powerful international mining companies in Jadotville to send mercenaries to defend their interests. En route to negotiate cease-fire conditions between the UN and the mercenary contingent, Hammarskjold dies in an airplane crash. The Siege at Jadotville retells the against-all-odds battle by inexperienced, ill-equipped Irish troops and the aftermath. Political posturing from both the UN and the mining corporations begin shortly thereafter.
Reminiscent in action scenes of the opening of Saving Private Ryan, The Siege at Jadotville thankfully places a bit less emphasis on the bloodshed. The ensemble cast is convincing as untested army soldiers thrown into a literal baptism by fire.
The pace of the story is tightly written and the action sequences are superb, with a suspenseful arc of hope, determination, frustration, despair and resolution. With superb cinematography, The Siege at Jadotville is a well-crafted sleeper of a war film, with an untold history lesson for all of us.
Note: Neither the UN nor Ireland acknowledged the battle until a review in 2004 by the Irish Minister of Defence at the insistence of retired Jadotville veterans who had been fighting for recognition ever since the battle. It wasn’t until 2016 that the Irish government awarded a Presidential Unit Citation to “A” Company,[ the first in Ireland’s history, to the veterans of Jadotville.